Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairy, Giriraj Singh, has said that a 'blue revolution' in fishing will transform the economy. In a special conversation with IANS on the completion of one year of the second term of the Modi government, Giriraj Singh said that there is immense potential for fish farming in the country and the production of fish can generate about four times the income as compared to foodgrains.
In times of coronavirus, when the economic growth of the country has come to a halt, the Union minister said that the increase in fish production in the country will increase the income of farmers, fishermen and vendors associated with its business.
He said that the price of fish is up to four times the average price per kg of wheat or rice, and thus increased potential for income of farmers and fishermen from fisheries compared to foodgrains.
The Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) is being seen as an important initiative of the fisheries sector during one year of the second term of the Modi government.
The central government announced an investment of Rs 20,050 crore under PMMSY for infrastructure creation to marketing and promotion for fish production in the country, which has been announced under Rs 20 lakh crore under the self-sufficient Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. Giriraj Singh said that this will speed up the pace of blue revolution.
The government aims to increase fish production in the country to 220 lakh metric tonnes by 2024-25 under this scheme and the target is to increase exports to Rs 1,00,000 crore. Almost all regions of the country have been affected by coronavirus and the minister said that on the question of the impact on fishermen's business, there is no such situation in terms of fish as in chicken.
The poultry business in the country has been badly affected due to rumours of coronavirus infection spreading through consumption of chicken.
In the second term of the Modi government, a separate Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairy was created last year as earlier it was under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
The responsibility of the newly created ministry was entrusted to Giriraj Singh. He was the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises during the first term of the Modi government.
He said, "I thank the Prime Minister for making this (Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairy) a separate department and this is also a revolutionary step in the history of the country."
Giriraj Singh was the Minister of Animal Husbandry and Fisheries in the government of Bihar from 2010-2013 before being elected from Nawada Lok Sabha constituency in 2014, thus he also has previous experience of this sector.
He said that in the field of fisheries, only Rs 3,680 crore was invested by the government of India during 1947 till 2014, while after taking power in 2014, the Prime Minister's blue revolution was planned in which a provision of Rs 3,000 crore was made.
The minister said, "This led to a total investment of Rs 5,000-6000 crore and due to that investment we are exporting worth Rs 46,000 crore today."
He said that before the Modi government came to power, the annual growth rate of fish production was just 4.7 per cent and has now gone up to more than 7 per cent and exports increased from about Rs 29,000-30,000 crore to more than Rs 46,000 crore in 2018-19.
Giriraj Singh said, "We have 22 lakh hectares of ponds, 31 lakh hectares of reservoirs and 1.92 lakh km of canals and rivers. Apart from this, there is the sea. We are also considering promoting cage culture in the sea."
The Union minister said that every pond, river, reservoir and sea has great potential to increase fish production and technology is being used to explore and exploit these possibilities.
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